Growing up, when I heard people talk about how much they loved food, I simply did not understand. Some food was tasty, yes, but eating was more about avoiding bad tastes and getting through tolerable ones than actually looking forward to a particular meal.
I was a fussy eater.
Food was not something to be enjoyed, but endured; a chore to get through.
It’s only fairly recently that this perception has been shaken, and only because I now make the majority of the food I eat myself.
Fussy eaters are awkward, even selfish for demanding separate provision be made for their needs. That guilt seeped across my teens and early twenties, worrying about which restaurant my friends had picked and whether I could eat anything there. The idea that you could turn up anywhere and feel sure that you could still have a choice was completely alien.
Of course I wasn’t deliberately fussy. Who would want to be?
It has hugely negative connotations, both for your tastes, your tolerance for trying something new and respect for others. Society makes this abundantly clear.
My diet is still bland compared to many. I don’t like many sauces, most pasta and a selection of ingredients deemed integral to normal lives.
I have ‘improved’ since I was younger; I eat a wider range of foods and am more open to trying new ones. But it makes me a little sad that people can be considered an irritation because of what they like to eat.
When people say that they never leave food on a plate even if they don’t like it, they are displaying their willingness to work with the crowd, and to put their preferences aside for the good of society. I could never do that, and have often felt bad about myself because of it.
There is a social toll for eating what you like – or what you feel is edible.
I’m fully aware this is an exceptionally privileged problem to have. I don’t expect the world to bend to my specific eating habits. But the disapproval? Maybe we don’t need that.